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How do I Choose the Best Mental Health Support Groups?

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  • Written By: G. Melanson
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 19 December 2019
  • Copyright Protected:
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    Conjecture Corporation
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Sharing our feelings and experiences with one another has long been a traditional form of informal therapy. This type of communication has such well-recognized cathartic effects that people are often encouraged to “let it all out” to a sympathetic friend, family member, or professional counselor. Because people suffering from mental health problems often feel particularly isolated in their feelings and experiences, joining a peer support group can be an especially valuable part of healing and mental health care. If you’re trying to choose the best mental health support groups for you, it's important to consider the organization that’s running the group and the way in which the meetings are led by the group's facilitator.

If you’re currently seeing a counselor, psychologist, or other mental health professional, begin by letting him or her know that you’re trying to find a support group. Not only would a professional be more knowledgeable about the support groups offered in your area, but he or she could also make a recommendation on your behalf to one of the groups if a referral is required or if there’s a waiting list.

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You can also find out more about local mental health support groups by performing an Internet search and contacting local hospitals and clinics in your area to see if they facilitate support groups or know of any they could recommend. Be sure to check with organizations in your area devoted to the specific mental health issue you’re dealing with. Whether you’re struggling with depression, anorexia, schizophrenia, or another mental illness, there are action centers and organizations out there devoted to providing resources for those living with these illnesses.

Once you’ve compiled a list of options from which you can choose the best mental health support group, contact one at a time and arrange to sit in on a meeting. Support groups usually don’t require people to sign up or commit to joining on their first meeting, so you should consider the experience your chance to observe the way in which things are run and assess your own comfort level. The group’s facilitator should ensure that all meeting attendees get an equal opportunity to talk, and should mediate if the conversation goes off topic or if a disagreement derails the meeting. A good facilitator also knows when to ask the right questions while people are sharing their stories so that they can begin to make constructive connections rather than just venting their feelings.

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